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HOMETOWN SCHOOL MAKES GOOD
Kim Goss
By The success of Ulby's athletic program and scholl
Published: Summer 2002

We live in a society in which bigger is often seen as better. Movie theaters have at least a dozen screens, department stores cover entire city blocks, and a combo meal simply isn’t good enough---you have to have it supersized. This attitude is also prevalent in our school systems, with many parents trying to get their children into bigger schools with vast resources. It’s a different story in Ubly, Michigan, where the school has a student body of only 1,000 in grades K-12 and yet offers an exceptional educational and athletic training experience.
“Being able to see the kids from as early as the first grade, I have a good understanding as a coach of what they can and cannot do athletically,” says Jim Becker, Ubly's Community Schools' head baseball coach and junior varsity football coach. “This perspective is also unique in that we get to see the kids grow up and mature, whereas at bigger schools you often don’t know who a kid is until they get into the higher grades.”
A Head Start to Success

This year Becker thought he would give the youngest athletes a head start by introducing them to some aspects of the BFS program. “I was thinking, ‘What could these kids do that doesn’t take a lot of time or special equipment, but could help their balance, agility and serve as a good warm-up?’ And it just hit me--- ‘Why not the dot drill?’ From the first day I taught those first graders, right up to where they are now near the end of the school year, I’ve been amazed at the improvement in their athletic abilities. The dot drill is one of the best warm-up activities I’ve ever seen.”
As for resistance training, Becker says he introduces his athletes to weight training in the seventh grade with the BFS Readiness Program. “Safety was one of the biggest concerns that the junior high school principal, Michael Smith, had about my program with these kids,” says Becker. “I ordered the Readiness Program, showed it to him, and he was sold right away.” The program has proven its worth, Becker explains. “Our safety record is 100 percent---I haven’t seen any situations that would require sending a kid to the office.”
Becker found that the BFS program was not only safe but also helped the Bearcats prevent injuries. “When I came here I noticed that our football team had quite a number of shoulder injuries on the field. Since we started BFS, for the past two seasons we haven’t had a single shoulder injury. So, injury-wise, the BFS program has been a blessing.”

A New Era

When Becker took over the baseball team at Ubly, the outlook for the coming season was pretty bleak---the previous year the team hadn’t won a single game and had only one home run the entire season! Says Becker, “I had to take over a team with very low morale---they didn’t believe in themselves. The following year, after implementing the BFS program, we had 10 home runs and we doubled the number of doubles, RBIs and triples. We ended up capturing the district championship.” As for football, this year Becker’s JV team went 9-0, despite having to play games against several schools with higher classifications. “Now our kids have adopted the slogan ‘The road to our championship passes through the weight room.’ They believe in the BFS weight program.”
With the success of such pro baseball players as Mark McGwire who credit weight training for much of their success, weight training has garnered more acceptance in America’s favorite pastime, Becker believes. He says one of the best exercises for baseball is the power clean. “Being a physical education major, I have to ask, ‘Why would a baseball player not want to do the power clean? That’s the middle part of your body---that’s where you work.’”
Much of the recent success of Ulby’s athletic programs is also attributable to the support of the school’s superintendent, Dave Landeryou. “He’s very supportive and helps me get the equipment our athletes need for success,” says Becker. “What’s funny is that when we first built our weight room I was concerned we had ordered too much equipment in terms of weight. By the end of the year our athletes had become so strong that I had to ask the superintendent to order another 1,000 pounds of weights---and it looks like every year I’m going to need another barbell and more weights.”

Safety in Small Numbers

One of the appealing aspects of attending Ubly High School is safety, and it’s said locally that crime is so low that if a teenager gets a speeding ticket it will make the paper. Says Becker, “What people don’t understand is that when you go into the hallways of most high schools you’ll see padlocks on the lockers---we don’t padlock anything here. We don’t have the problem of people taking other people’s things. We feel safe---that says a lot!”
Another plus about living in Ubly is a sense of community. “You’ve heard the phrase ‘In a small town everybody knows everybody’? In Ulby it’s true. We’ve got a blinking traffic light in this town and that’s it. Ubly is a farming community, and a lot of the people in this town went to school here---some of the coaches have been around long enough to have coached some of the kids’ parents. So whether it’s football, basketball or baseball, our stands are always packed. And as for education, whenever you get the community involved with the school and the kids believing in themselves, that’s when learning is best. That’s when good things happen.”



The town's only light is a yellow flashing light in the heart of downtown.
Stretching is a key component of the Bearcats' total conditioning program.
1swt Grader Nick Sweeney doing athe dot drill as Coach Becker supervises
Steve Peruski
After implementing the BFS program, the Bearcats went from a winless season to capturing the district championship.
Freshman Eric Pichia cleans 125 pounds while Coach Becker spots.
Coach Jim Becker
Aaron Maurer
Aaron Maurer

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